Dieselfx Brings Wildfire to Life in Forest Service PSAs
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Titled Assault, the spot centers on a group of grotesque characters with flaming bodies who attempt to attack a home on the edge of a forest. However, the creatures are stymied by actions the homeowner has taken, such as creating a fire barrier around the home and using fire-retardant materials in its construction. The voiceover encourages viewers to take similar measures, asking “What have you got to lose…except everything?”[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Executive producer Carl Seibert, who also supervised the production of the spot, encouraged Diesel’s involvement from pre-production forward to help develop the look. “PSA’s and visual effects can be a challenging combo economically,” observed Seibert. “It was important for us to define the look and process early so we could develop a shooting methodology with the director.”
“Having Diesel at the shoot was a big help,” added Chip Fuller, FCB’s group creative director. “We didn't waste a lot of time shooting stuff that wouldn’t work once we got to post.”
Diesel’s creative director Elliott Jobe worked with agency creatives in developing a look for the wildfire characters. “They were restricted from using practical fire elements in the production, so we had to develop a look for the characters that showed heat and flame but did not depend on using real fire,” Jobe explained.
Instead, Jobe suggested a design where fire elements would be added in post production. The characters, played by a trio of actors, were dressed in Lycra suits with red patches applied to areas meant to be aflame. In post, Diesel’s compositing team digitally replaced the patches with animated flame elements resembling bubbling lava.
Before the shoot, Jobe conducted tests using both flat artwork and a mock-up of the suits to demonstrate the finished look. “The tests were helpful in gaining the agency’s confidence in our approach because on the set, it simply looked like actors in costumes with patches on them,” Jobe observed.
The pre-production work paid off in both a dynamic look and a smooth post process. “Because the look of the characters was predetermined, we were able to complete it very quickly,” Jobe said, noting that post work was completed in under a week.
In fact, Jobe said, the agency and client were so pleased with the look, they asked to see more of the characters. Jobe and his crew increased the number of Wildfire characters in several shots by pulling elements from alternate takes and adding them to the scene. Additionally, Diesel reconstructed the lawn around the property to give it a more uniform appearance by cloning bits of sod. “We were able to give them a lot of production value for a relatively modest budget,” Jobe said.
“Creativity, attention to detail, forward thinking and incredible speed, that's how I characterize the team at Diesel,” said Fuller. “They’re just great.”
The spot is part of a multifaceted campaign that also includes radio and print advertising encouraging the public to visit www.Firewise.org for more information about how they can make their homes more defensible against wildfires.
Dieselfx can be reached at (310) 394 9001 or Dieselfx.com.
Client: The Advertising Council, the USDA Forest Service and the National Association of State Foresters
Agency: Foote, Cone & Belding Southern California, Irvine, CA. Chip Fuller, creative director; Paul Christianson, art director; Brent Thomas, copywriter; Dan Reilly, producer.
Production Company: Seed, Venice, CA. Michael Chaves, director; Eriks Krumins, executive producer; Florian Stadler, director of photography; Anton Maillie, producer.
Location: San Bernadino, CA.
Editing Company: Union Editorial. Nico Alba, editor; Seth Silberfein, assistant editor; Michael Raimondi, executive producer; Megan Dahlman, producer.
Music Company: HUM Music+Sound Design, Santa Monica, CA. Marc Levisohn, composer; Debbie Landon, producer.
Post Company: The Syndicate, Santa Monica, CA. Bob Curreri, colorist; Leslie Sorrentino, producer.
Visual EFX Company: Dieselfx, Santa Monica, CA. Carl Seibert, executive producer/visual effects supervisor; Elliott Jobe, creative director/lead artist; Craig Price, Inferno artist; Korey Cachon; producer
Audio Post House: Eleven, Santa Monica, CA. Mike Greenberg, engineer; Chris Devcich, assistant.
Sound Design Company: HUM Music+Sound Design, Santa Monica, CA. Marc Levisohn, sound designer; Debbie Landon, producer.
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